Why do we all love to support the underdogs? Is it because we like to be surprised? Because the underdog winning is unexpected. In real life as in novels, we always love the thrill of something unexpected happening.
Take a look at some popular teen novels. Hunger Games is about a rebellion of impoverished people fighting against the powerful government. In the Harry Potter series you have a simple teen boy fighting against the most powerful evil wizard of all time. In The Maze Runner you have a group of teens fighting against powerful, mysterious forces that have put them in the Glade.
Watching the Super Bowl last night and seeing how the Patriots (who were losing in the 3rd quarter) came back in a surprising victory made me think about the underdog. In a sense, the Patriots were the underdogs nearing the ending of the game. And yet they triumphed.
Everyone I talk to today is saying it was an amazing game because of that triumph. But why? If the Patriots were winning from the beginning, it would not be as amazing a victory. No, people are so excited because they made a comeback. They were the underdogs who took the bone.
In writing, I think we always love to root for someone we can relate to. Someone who is imperfect and not the best, richest, or most powerful. And yet, we want to see them triumph. We want to see the detective catch the murderer. We want to see the rebels destroy the dictators. We want to see the underdog, who we can relate to, take the victory. I just think this is a very cool idea.
What is your favorite book about an underdog? Why do you like rooting for the underdog? And, if you don’t, why not?